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Analysis: If the State of Alabama just changed fonts, it could save millions

Alabama State Capitol
Alabama State Capitol

If Alabama’s state government agencies and institutions changed the font they use to type documents, they could potentially save millions of taxpayer dollars per year, according to an analysis by the Alabama Legislative Fiscal office at the request of state senator Slade Blackwell (R-Mountain Brook).

All of the state’s documents are currently printed in Time New Roman font, but if Blackwell has his way, that won’t be the case for much longer.

“If agencies started using the Garamond font rather than Times New Roman, the state would save between 20 percent and 30 percent on ink and toner every year,” Blackwell told Yellowhammer. “Taxpayers expect us to be good stewards of their money. I believe we’ve done that since coming into the majority in 2010 and this is another great opportunity for us to continue streamlining and downsizing state government.”

The Alabama Department of Finance’s Division of Purchasing reports that ink and toner expenditures from state contracts are approximately $1.5 million per year. Public higher education institutions in the state spend roughly $3.2 million on the same.

Assuming a 25 percent reduction in costs by switching to the same-size Garamond font, the state agencies and public higher education institutions could save $300,000 per year immediately. If local school boards and other state entities were included as well, the savings could easily skyrocket into the seven-figures.

Garamond Alabama

Blackwell says he plans to sponsor a bill during the next legislative session mandating the use of Garamond font for all internal printing for each department, agency, institution and entity of the state.

The Missouri Legislature is currently considering a similar bill. The fiscal note prepared for the bill says that it would definitely have a net positive effect on state revenues, although the total amount is unknown.

The original idea for the switch to Garamond font appears to have been hatched by sixth-grader Suvir Mirchandani of Pittsburgh, Pa., who made the potential money-saving discovery while working on a school science project.

Mirchandani found that his local school district could save $21,000 every year by making the switch. His teacher convinced him to send the research to Harvard. Researchers at the Ivy League institution were so impressed that they encouraged him to take his findings to the Federal government. Mirchandani said the U.S. government could save a stunning $394 million per year just by switching to Garamond.

At a time when Alabama’s budgets are being stretched to their limits, there’s a good change Blackwell’s bill will find support from member of both parties next session.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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